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Karin & David Henderson

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Maple Ridge, B.C.

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An Interview with Michael and Karin About Getting Relief from Meniere's Disease
Why We Are Different
Meniere's Disease
What is Meniere's Disease?
Meniere's Disease in Detail
Signs & Symptoms of Meniere's Disease
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Testing and Diagnosis
The Possible Causes
Vertigo
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Tinnitus
Hearing Loss
Ear Pain and Pressure
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
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What Is a  Proper Diet
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Meniere's Disease Diet and Nutrition Information

We get many emails asking for information about diets for Meniere's Disease and what foods to avoid. Many people, probably most people, would be willing to change their lifestyle if it would help them to avoid their very unpleasant Meniere's disease symptoms. Every day we are told by someone that they are on a low salt diet, antihistamines and diuretics. Many times, we are also told these don't do anything to help that person.

Personally, I really wanted to understand what the main medical sites tell people about Meniere's disease diets and why they make the recommendations they do. I started with Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, House Ear Clinic, Shea Ear clinic, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/Pages/sudden.aspx and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/aug2012/feature1 for specific Meniere's disease diet advice.

The sites I used are strictly from an interest point of view. I simply Googled a term and found lots of sites worth exploring. I suggest you do the same, but please use some common sense. Don't just believe everything you read about Meniere's disease.

I tried to avoid sites with advertising, but few such sites exist. So be aware of what they offer as far as information is concerned. The very best thing to do is to have a healthy body and keep it that way. These are two of my favorite sites: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/menieresDisease.cfm

VEDA http://vestibular.org/understanding-vestibular-disorders/treatment/dietary-considerations

Basically people who have Meniere's Disease, are told the following: use a low salt diet, go on a diuretic, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and take an antihistamine such as SERC and Betahistine. Sometimes they are cautioned about MSG, sugars, and chocolate. These are the conventional treatment plans everyone is prescribed for their Meniere's disease symptoms.

Three major underlying facts to keep in mind as you read on:

  1. The “food” idea seems to support the concept that “you are what you eat”. So it seems to matter what you put into your body.
  2. Your body “has a mind of its own”. It has a built-in mechanism to protect you: its major protective measure is your immune system. And one part of this is the inflammatory process. Maybe what we put ONTO our bodies matters as well. It is my intention to make you aware of how your body works. None of what I share is medical advice. Everything can be checked in anatomy and physiology textbooks.
  3. The idea or concept of “cause and effect” is a scientific fact. You can use it. You can ignore it. You can rail against it. It won't change anything. It still exists. So you may want to learn how to use this to benefit yourself. It is VERY apparent all through this article!

What follows here is a snapshot of ideas. Because of copyright laws, I can only share the links and the facility names of my searches for Meniere's disease information. But I do want you to check out what you are told by your Doctors. Then ask yourself how does apply to you, personally.

Every site I checked out mentioned Meniere's Disease. So they saw it as a “disease”. Many said there was no cure, but some sites offered ways to avoid the symptoms. Some called their recommendations “diets”: others offered “diet strategies”.

It is my strong feeling that as you explore this Meniere's disease diet concept in greater detail and compare recommendations, you will get a hint of what your medical practitioner is trying to accomplish. Why do you want to know this? Because it gives you something to aim for and maybe control the debilitating symptoms. After all, you did seek professional help. But again, evaluate how it applies to you. These generalities may not be required in your own situation.

Why DO you have these balance and/or hearing symptoms? You have two nerves, the balance or vestibular nerve, and the hearing or acoustic or auditory nerve. When everything is fine, they are quiet and doing their job. It is only when they are bothered or affected by “something”, that they react and give off symptoms/feelings. And these symptoms reflect your balance and hearing “health”. You could easily be experiencing symptoms in other parts of your body, but not be aware of it.

Keep this in mind as we go along, your Meniere's disease symptoms can be connected to your diet. Your body constantly rebalances itself. It thrives in and strives for homeostasis. Every single cell, tissue, organ, etc. functions best in this perfect environment. There are some chemicals called electrolytes to help regulate this balance. So the underlying goal is not to have this balance skewed, otherwise the body finds ways to adjust its needs.

Salt and sodium are parts of this electrolyte “system”. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/fluidandelectrolytebalance.html This is a great site to learn more. Another major component is the electrolyte called potassium. Often these are part of the treatment plan when diuretics are prescribed.

So fluid management is crucial to your health. This brings up a very important point, but it may create a bit of confusion. We are used to talking about a “low salt diet”. What we are really aiming for is a diet where sodium and potassium and other electrolytes are balanced. As this is a pretty tricky balancing act requiring a lot of “other” knowledge, you are told to cut back on salt. Hence the “low salt diet”.

If you really understand that your entire body is interconnected and interactive (just like your computer), you will appreciate how fluid moves from your toes to head including the inner ear and in reverse constantly. Allergies are a really good example of all of this.

A food you are allergic to produces a reaction. The reaction causes inflammation which is excess fluid (inflammatory reaction). What do all allergies have in common? Are they not all fluid related? Runny nose, sneezing, itchiness, rashes? Asthma (respiratory allergies) is a reaction to something which is “sitting” in the lungs, setting off fluid.

While diuretics are constantly prescribed for Meniere's Disease sufferers, there is however a downside to them. They also lower blood pressure. In fact they are seen as the better way to lower blood pressure. http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/apr2005/nhlbi-05.htm

So now you have less blood circulating throughout your body, carrying fewer essential nutrients, oxygen and other vital healing elements, especially to the brain. Low blood pressure shows up as dizziness. If you are any, do check them out for side effects. http://www.rxlist.com

What does all this have to do with foods? We tend to think of diets as related to foods. Here the advice suggests what to avoid, but in every instance, more than just foods were advised. I'll attempt to suggest the reason for it. But most of all, I want YOU to really do some searching. Use your own common sense before you jump to any conclusions. Every single body reacts differently. Yours may be fine with many of these items. Just explore the advice.

Please understand that I am trying to figure out why doctors give you certain recommendations and what they might be based on. This is common sense: not medical advice. I find when you know why something is being done, it's much easier to accept the process and maybe contribute your own initiatives, such as doing more “good things” and avoiding the “not so helpful” things.

Here are the ones I saw over and over.

Sugar: We love sweet things! So we eat lots of them. Personally I think it's better to have a small amount of sugar and not take any artificial sweeteners. The artificial ones are chemicals. Study their side effects. There are many sites to show how these chemicals affect your body. Before you agree to avoid it and substitute it, check it out. Why is this so? For some reason these main medical sites do not update as new knowledge is uncovered, tried, and found to be helpful. This is a good comprehensive site for sweeteners. http://www.janethull.com

Honey is another sweetener. We also know it has many healing qualities.

Alcohol is a favorite “target”. It is seen as changing the fluid balance. It is also a known depressant. We know red wines are problematic for SOME people, but not every Meniere's disease sufferer.

Chocolate is seen as a stimulant, but we now know it's a good antioxidant if you use top quality dark chocolate.

Coffee is seen as a stimulant, yet again, we hear it's a good antioxidant if it is good quality coffee. The decaffeination process is seen as being much more of a problem as it is a chemical process.

Nicotine decreases the blood supply and is “chemicals reacting”.

Antacids offer a significant amount of sodium.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), in the literature are seen as causing water retention. This can lead to electrolyte imbalance. (Here I want to show you a bit of irony. An anti-inflammatory is meant to draw OFF fluid, yet these drugs RETAIN fluids, attracting it. This is why I encourage you to really understand what your drugs do. Common sense has to prevail.)
http://www.medicinenet.com/nonsteroidal_antiinflammatory_drugs/article.htm

Aspirin is listed as increasing tinnitus. In the same site Medicine.net site as just above, it too is seen as a NSAIDs.

Monosodium glutamate better known as MSG is seen as causing a lot of allergies, and is suspect because it is a type of sodium. That can contribute to fluid retention. There are many interesting sites to learn about this additive. Here is one. http://www.ehow.com/how_7489999_detect-monosodium-glutamate.html

Low salt diets are seen as avoiding salt and thus fluid buildup, but many people suffer from low blood pressure, which can also cause dizziness. The next obvious question then has to be “how much is too much salt”? It has been suggested that 1500 mgms/day is adequate, but do more research for yourself. I think the “one size fits all” recommendation doesn't take into account other factors, such as exercise and water intake.

This subject has to include medical monitoring of electrolytes and potassium. If you are on a diuretic, do your own searching for a comfort level that suits you. Look up terms like hyponatremia and hyperkalemia. This is my favourite site I send everyone to. MedlinePlus http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/vivisimo/cgi-bin/query-meta?v:project=medlineplus&query=electrolytes&x=8&y=14

I want to mention gluten-free diets, celiac diets, and lactose intolerance. We get a lot of comments about these. If you look carefully at each one, you again see a treatment process. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten-free_diet Most likely this would be a treatment against inflammation (the body's natural and automatic warning system). So the suggestion is that if you avoid these foods or recognize this condition, you may not suffer these symptoms.

Once again “food” or its avoidance is seen as a treatment. To learn more about this, check out this site and then really explore each individual condition. I thought of including some of the foods that containing gluten but the list is so long, that it's best for you to do this on your own. You could start here. http://www.chemical-free-living.com/foods-containing-gluten.html

All in all, there really isn‘t a lot to talk about regarding diets for Meniere's disease. It seems to come down to what to avoid and what to do more of. I think most of it was a collection of ordinary foods someone has deemed to be harmful:

  • caffeine
  • nicotine
  • sugars
  • salt
  • MSG
  • chocolate
  • alcohol

Lately we are hearing a lot about gluten free diets for Meniere's Disease. Could it be that “something” is setting off “something” that is causing inflammation (most often fluid) which in turn increases the pressure on the balance and hearing nerves? (One or both?) I am just asking.

One of the side benefits of all my investigating is that you really become aware of what you eat. And what you put onto your body. And how it is influenced by everything. This leads to healthy skepticism and more research and a lot more understanding. Know you always have the power of a choice and the more you know, the better the choices.

So let me end with this idea. If you can avoid the “bad foods” and avoid whatever someone has told you to avoid, do you still have a disease? Meniere's Disease? How could you tell if you do not have any more symptoms? Are these balance and hearing symptoms not the major basis of the “Meniere's Disease” diagnosis?

Learn to understand the mechanics of the fluid actions of your body. Know how it can create symptoms when it impacts a nerve, any nerve, but most uncomfortably the balance and hearing nerves in your case.

My conclusion: Clearly having spent many hours exploring the many different options for Meniere's Disease diets, I would encourage you to ask for clarification when you are given this recommendation. I can't see a “diet”. I can see avoidances.

Strangely, I rarely saw any reference to eating to promote a healthy lifestyle. You may also want to look at our observations email for more ideas of possible cause for your Meniere's disease symptoms. I would be happy to email you a copy. These are items other sufferers have shared with us. Once they dealt with them, they were much better.

I hope you have learned a few ways to understand how your body functions and tries to keep you healthy. Keep these two sites in your main medical lookup folder for ongoing research: they seem to have the most current information.

MedlinePlus

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/menieresdisease.html

 

UptoDate

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/meniere-disease?source=see_link

 

By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.

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Additional Resources

 

If you would like more information on Meniere's disease diets, please use this link and we will be happy to help you.

 

Numerous people have gotten relief from the same system that David and others have been using.  If you would like to know more about the system we talk about on the site, please use this link to go to the Meniere's Disease System Information page.

 

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